NATO: Beyond The North Atlantic

(MENAFN- Asia Times) This article was originally published by Pacific Forum , a Honolulu-based foreign policy research institute founded in 1975.

NATO's Washington Summit marks the Alliance's 75th year. The mood is hardly celebratory. Two and a half years into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the West's ability to stay the course is increasingly in doubt.

Meanwhile, even if former United States President Donald trump does not win in November, recent polling suggests many Americans share his views that Europeans need to bear the lion's share for their continent's defense given other pressures on the United States.

Such pre-occupations, understandable as they are, shouldn't allow another critical challenge to slip down NATO's agenda in DC: Indo-Pacific security.

NATO took the unprecedented step of identifying China as a strategic challenge in 2022. While Beijing's so-called“no limits partnership” announced just weeks before Russia's invasion was a catalyst, so too was China's increasing belligerence over issues like the South China Sea and Taiwan. As Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida put it, many feared that“today's Ukraine may be tomorrow's East Asia.”

As a result, NATO has been deepening its partnerships with the so-called“Indo-Pacific Four (IP4)”: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. So far, however, these linkages have been limited to political dialogue and new equipment partnerships. Item 30 of the July 10 Washington summit declaration by NATO heads of state and government puts it this way:

Not all in the Indo-Pacific have welcomed this new interest, with the Ukraine war and growing US-China tensions crystalizing differences of opinion in Southeast Asia, in particular, regarding how best to manage regional security.

Notwithstanding any misgivings over a NATO role in the region, the risk of a regional emergency or conflict between great powers continues to grow. Aggression in the South China Sea has ramped up markedly this year, risking a miscalculation that could rapidly escalate into an international crisis. Russia and North Korea's recent mutual
defense pact
could further destabilize the Korean Peninsula as well as creating yet more challenges for Ukraine.


Asia Times

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